It’s three and a half years since Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE: KMI) shocked its investors with a 75 percent dividend cut. And it’s a fair bet many former shareholders are still steering clear. That’s a shame, given the stock’s nearly 40 percent return so far in 2019.
Communications has been a tough business throughout North America for years. But Conservative Holding BCE Inc (TSX: BCE, NYSE: BCE) has consistently gained revenue and market share. The company today operates Canada’s Best in class network on the verge of 5-G adoption.
No stock is a buy at any price. And even the best-run company can get so expensive that realizing additional upside becomes an almost impossible slog. That’s not been the case so far this bull market for the top players in the US utility sector. But if we’re not there yet, we’re getting very close to it.
So far, this has been a very good year to buy and hold utility stocks. The Dow Jones Utility Average including dividends returned 15.4 percent in the first half of the year. Our 2019 picks from the January article did even better with an 18 percent average total return. That beat our pans’ 6 percent return by a 3-to-1 margin.
Buckeye Partners’ (NYSE: BPL) first quarter earnings results had all the hallmarks of a company careening towards another distribution cut. Then Australian private infrastructure fund IFM came along with a $41.50 per unit all-cash takeover offer. That’s given long-suffering unitholders their best opportunity to cash out since early 2018.
On May 24, the Dow Jones Utility Average made a new all-time high. Over the next week or so it followed the S&P 500 lower, testing its 50-day moving average on several occasions before breaking out to another new high last week. That’s a stark contrast with the broad market, which has been alternatively puncturing support and failing to break resistance.
Management’s rationale is identical to that of other telecoms cutting the past couple years. It needs more cash to tackle a wall of pending debt maturities, even as capital spending needs pick up for next generation 5-G wireless and competition pressures 4-G revenues.
There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush from a big short-term gain in a stock. My son Nate enjoyed that feeling this week by picking up on a Utility Report Card recommendation of El Paso Electric (NYSE: EE). This week, the stock surged when a JP Morgan fund offered $68.50 per share in cash for the company.
From its humble beginnings as the old Southwestern Bell, AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) emerged from the competitive free-for-all following 1996 deregulation as one of America’s big two telecoms. And revenues, earnings and dividends have risen consistently ever since.
Less than two decades ago, AES Corp (NYSE: AES) was one false step from bankruptcy. That’s when management dramatically slashed debt, streamlined its portfolio and modernized its fleet and systems with the most advanced power technology.
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Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.